Thursday, January 23, 2020

The Eyes Have It

We have entered the year of perfect vision: 2020. This is a year of cautionary notes, specifically not to shorten the year to 20 on checks or legal documents. It makes perfect sense since the date could be changed to 20 whatever.

I’m sure that when I was a kid that the magically sounding year of 2020 seemed so far in the future as to not be on my radar. In fact, the thought of 20/20 vision wasn’t on my radar either. I’m not sure what happened, but I lost my ability to see so slowly that I never even noticed it until I was in 7th grade. That year, our teacher for some crazy reason didn’t want us to work the problems in our math book so she wrote different problems on the blackboard. I could see she was writing on the board, but couldn’t make out the numbers. Eventually, another student and I sat at the teacher’s desk so that we could read the problems.

That summer, I got my first pair of glasses. The optometrist, a wise old man, said he was not going to correct my vision to 20/20. “You have gotten so used to not seeing that you quit trying.” Sure enough, when I went back two weeks later, my corrected vision was 20/20. I can remember being amazed that it was possible to see individual leaves on the trees.

Our eyes open up the world around us and allow us to see both the beautiful and ugly. Paulo Coelho said, “The eyes are the mirror of the soul and reflect everything that seems to be hidden; and like a mirror they also reflect the person looking into them.”

Eyes Show Emotion: Eyes are our most expressive facial feature. Before I had my glasses, I squinted a lot. Why? Narrowing the eyes helps us focus and see more details. Narrowed eyes are often associated with discrimination, disgust, and suspicion. Wide eyes are associated with fear or awe.

Eyes Reflect Mood: If you are sad, it shows in your eyes. Happiness can cause a twinkle in your eye. Eyes are the outward mirror of the inward self. Eyes can be angry. They can be filled with pity, empathy, or love. They can show exasperation—eye roll. Even if we hold the rest of our face still, eyes can tell on us.

Eyes Are a Clue to Truthfulness: Studies show that the eyes can reveal thinking, lying, or being honest. If you close your eyes when you are conversing with someone, you may either be taking a short nap (because they are boring), or you may be connecting with your inner self. Psychologists say that if a person looks up and to the right, they are lying. However, if you look up and to the left, you are as honest as Abe. Theoretically. I can’t help but think that a habitual liar will look you straight into your eyes and fabricate away. Don’t you think they read too?

Eyes Indicate Physical Health: Diabetes, stress, heart problems, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and retinal detachment can cause changes in your vision. Sudden blurry vision could indicate a migraine or a stroke. Grave’s disease can cause bulging eyes. We’ve hear of ring around the collar (old commercial for those of you under forty), but if you are under forty and have a ring around your cornea, you should have your cholesterol checked. If the whites of your eyes turn yellow (jaundice), you could have liver problems. Twitching eyelids could be from stress, too much caffeine, MS, or as I have personally noticed—lack of sleep. And, of course, red teary eyes could be from allergies.

Can a Simple Eye Test Detect Alzheimer’s? Studies indicate that changes in the blood vessels in the retina appear to be linked to dementia. By using optical coherence tomography angiograpy (Octa),  researchers at Duke University, North Carolina, compared the retinas of 39 people with Alzheimer’s and 37 who had mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to 133 people with no brain impairment. They discovered that people with Alzheimer’s had fewer blood vessels and reduced blood flow the other two groups. Both the people with MCI and Alzheimer’s had a thinner layer of nerve fibers that surround the optic nerve. The study was small, and so far, the eye test to detect Alzheimer’s isn’t simple, or available at this time.   

When it comes to noting the motives, truthfulness, moods, and health of those around you, look into their eyes. The next time you look in the mirror, examine your own eyes for anything new or different. For many reasons, the eyes have it.

Copyright © January 2020 by L.S. Fisher

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